Sunday, August 25, 2013

pretty as a picture (for dog lover's only)

Oprah Magazine September 2013
My hostess for my stay in Los Angelos last spring said to me and my traveling companion as she toured us through the house: I know the dogs won't bother you Carol. Huh? How did she get the idea that I like dogs? I only ever owned a cat in my adult life, and I have been quite enthusiastic in that ownership ... but dogs?

I like dogs when they are across the street. I say to myself when I see a cute dog, or a big dog, or a dog with a cute guy as an owner: oh, that's a nice puppy. Yes, I call all dogs, puppies. Someone corrected me last week on the street that their dog was not a puppy. Okay. I call them all that.

When I was four, I was attacked by a giant dog. That's all I have to say. When I recall the attack now, I"m thinking that it probably wasn't a really big dog as I was four. And it probably didn't attack me as it more likely came up to sniff me. So the attack may be an exaggeration, but for a four year old, a dog the same size as I was and a sniff ... well, you can see how I might have been a little, shall I say, put off by the beasts.

And with that sniffing ... I can't hate a dog for doing it because I am sort of a human sniffer. My sniffer doesn't always work due to allergies and whatnot, but when I can sniff, I like to do it. I sniff flowers. Light scented candles. Spray perfume. And I'm even good with the not so flowery or spiced scents. It's all good. So I actually, you could say, have something in common with the dogs.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed having my friend's dog up in my grill. They were little dogs. I think that they are more ... manageable. And I loved playing the tug o' war game with them. I am competative, and I did score how many times I could wrassle the chew toy away from the dog. And I gloated: oh puppy, it's me 3, you 2.

I have decided that in my retirement when I live in a little cottage at the edge of the wood with a lake view and a typewriter at the ready, I will welcome a puppy into my home. And when I saw this article (honestly, I didn't read it ... I think that the pictures said it all) in Oprah, I caught that the dog featured was giving me a knowing look. Yeah, he/she is thinking, it was only a matter of time before the puppies caught your attention. Sly dog.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

cinema aphrodiso

Vanity Fair tricked me into buying the August issue with a beautiful picture of Diana, Princess of Wales, by Mario Testino on the cover. Oh, the article shredded no new light on the Diana's life. The article was a regurgitation of what's already out there. I'm a sucker and the guy doing the cover did his job right, I suppose.

In the magazine, I did find this article that I thought was sort of interesting: Cinema Aprodiso, a list of 25 romantic English language films from the thirties until now. I've decided that I have to view through this list, though many I've already seen:
Vanity Fair August 2013

The Age of Innocence: this movie is more beautiful every time that I see it. The sets are lush and decadent, and I would argue that anything Daniel Day Lewis acts in is something to see. It is so hard to take your eyes off of him in a picture. And when he unbuttons Countess Olenska's (Michelle Pfeiffer) glove to kiss her wrist ... swoon. Martin Scorsese did indeed make a wonderfully romantic movie.

Before Sunrise/Before Sunset/Before Midnight: I have been a fan of these movies starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delphie for years, though I haven't seen Before Midnight, the third movie in the continuation of the documented lives of Celine and Jesse. I resisting the first movie, but when I read a review of the second, I realized that I might be missing out on something. And I was. They are 'talky' movies. And they are intimate. And seem so real. In the second film, when Celine and Jesse have run into each other after nine years, she invites him in for a cup of tea and seductively says to him as she dances to Ertha Kitt playing on the record player: you are going to miss your plane. I would say the same thing.

Brokeback Mountain: this movie broke my heart. It, the movie,  is because so many have hate in their heart. What is more romantic than crossing the line and breaking through prejudice. Sadly for Jack, he took the hit. How Ennis will live with it is beyond me.

The English Patient: I saw this first in theaters on a big screen, and that was the way to see this sublimely visual story that is in fact one of the most romantic movies that I have ever seen. It is tortured, passionate, painful, and worth crossing a desert to find. This film is as much about the ravages of war as it is love, but a war from the past for some is a romantic notion as it is the end of what has become the good old days. And those never stay forever in real time, but are rose colored settled in the past.

Ghost: Really? Patrick Swayze, for me, is such, as a good friend of mine would say, a cheeseball. And I can't take him seriously. Or Demi Moore for that matter.

Love Affair/ An Affair to Remember: Here's another film(s) that I've seen, but haven't registered. Of course the contemporary remake in my estimation is Sleepless in Seattle with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. It's a cute enough movie. It's a blend of the aforementioned long ago films along with the other films that Nora Ephron wrote like You've Got Mail and When Harry Met Sally. All romantic-ish.

Love Story: ah, just watched this film again in February. I may have even watched it on Valentine's Day. Boy oh boy was Ryan O'Neal good lookin'. I remember watching a movie when I was a kid called Sunshine. The song for the movie, naturally, was John Denver's song of the same name. It starred Cliff de Young who was also real good lookin'. Essentially, it is the same story. Couple meet, fall in love, wife discovers that she has terminal cancer, she dies, he's sad. Pick your setting: preppy northeast or hippy west coast. Ali McGraw ... I don't get it. She was sort of stiff, and I didn't see any chemistry between she and O'Neal. I'll go with John Denver as it's a lovely song that is played with the credits.

The Way We Were: Hello gorgeous. Now this is a romantic movie. I will give you that I am prejudiced as Barbra Streisand is someone that I absolutely adore. And Robert Redford? oooff. What any-girl doesn't secretly want to be with the big man on campus? The beauty of it is that the characters love each other in spite of their differences. Of course the same is what drives them apart, but not until they've found each other for a time. I never tire of watching this movie of Hubbel and Kkkk-Katie.

I had this idea that I would write through all of movies that is on their list. And I've Netflix'd those that I haven't (interestingly, the first two arrived and I had seen them already). But their list is ... well, theirs. Too few of the movies on the list I would even call romantic at all. I suppose to each his own, and perhaps what I should do is write about the list that I would make. I will save that for another time though as a red envelope came in the mail, and I have a movie to watch.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

tilda swinton

UK Vogue August 2013
Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel designer and photographer, captures the light in Tilda Swinton's eyes iluminescently in the Chanel advertisements that are leading in to the fall season. She is bewitching.

Once I was able to pull  away from the the white queen, I see that the backdrop of  the shoot are tapestries. And that brought to mind the Tapisserie de Bayeux (11th Century) that I had the opportunity to view on a trip to France a few years back. The tapestry is actually not quite that as it is, according the official web site, a linen canvas that is embroidered. It celebrates the conquest by England by William the Conqueror after the Battle of Hastings. Though housed in France, the work is thought to have been done in England.

UK Vogue August 2013
What I remember most of the visit to the tapestries are the rooms that it is housed in. Dark, cool, and quiet, they were a respite from a busy touring day. And the notion of all of the work that was needed to complete the 230 foot long story board, is something to meditate on in the quiet of the room. Obviously, having been made ten centuries ago, the work has been on a odyssey of its own from hand to hand. It's really rather remarkable that so much of it is still in tact today and on display.

Tilda Swinton is not posing in front of the Tapisserie de Bayeux, but the notion that the contemporary needle work is posed in front of the ancient is wonderful to imagine. Lagerfeld's early fall collection is Scottish inspired. And in he cold, drafty Laird's castles in Scotland, I have seen many tapestries there. The fabrics used in the collection are hearty and luxe and will withstand the test of time I would wager. And so it would seem, Tilda comes into the light and is strong enough to stand the range of time, not unlike her character in the film Orlando, based on the novel by Virginia Woolfe. First man, then woman, Orlando lives through centuries of life before she tires of it. The novel is written as a magical realism, and I think that Lagerfeld is doing the same here with this beautiful collection of clothing, history, and photographs.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

minister island

Minister Island
The ocean. And land mass. I visited this island: Minister Island near to St. Andrews by the Sea in New Brunswick, Canada this summer. But I didn't get on a boat. Or swim ... quite a distance in freezing North Atlantic water. But how did I get there?

In a few hour's time after taking the picture, when the tide lowered, a path appeared and as the pamphlet described, I was able to drive across the ocean's floor.

the path is revealed at low tide
According to the information in a local tourist pamphlet, the island has been inhabited for more than 2,500 years. First by the Passamaquoddy people and then Loyalists to the Crown. The island gets its name from the Rev. Samuel Andrews who built a stone house on the island in 1790. Later, Sir William van Horne, an American from Joliet, IL who moved to Canada to build the Canadian Pacific Railroad, built a summer home on the island.

The cottage, or in my estimation ... house, was not noteworthy and has seen better days, but the island itself is really rather spectacular. Sir van Horne had extensive plantings, farms, and livestock on the island. It was a true cottage industry. He and his family spent most summers on the island. And when back in town, fresh butter, milk, and vegetables were sent from the island. As an amateur painter, he had the beauty of the environs as inspiration certainly.

the bath house and studio
A small walk from the house leads to an outer building that Sir van Horne used as a studio. It looks out over the sea, and a winding staircase inside, then out, takes one at low tide to a lovely rocky shore that he preserved as as intertidal coastline. Stone, cut out of the beach, was used in the home, quite spectacularly as a fire place in one of the rooms. The cut in the beach made for a unique salt water swimming pool for the family.

the barn
The Van Horne's had two children and it is the daughter who took control of the estate when her father passed. She did not marry, so when she died, her brother's child took over at the helm. I suppose the idea that the island is only accessible for some of the time wasn't as appealing to all. The house has fallen through several owners since, and is now in now membership-owned. I had a chat with the docent who gave us a tour of the house, and she explained that they have had a hard time of it. They can't get tourists on the island. And events are tricky as the tide controls the passage to it. Now the house is in such a state that whoever were to take it on would have quite a project. Like she said, 'it cost a million dollars to build, and it will take a billion to restore.'

I wondered at this point. I understand preserving the past, but are the efforts worthwhile when no one is very interested in it. How many estates or buildings should be saved. As I've said, the cottage/house for me was unremarkable. But the island was magnificent. I wasn't able to go on any of the walking trails given the time, but I would have like to have spent more time there. I think that they should level the house ... save the stone work and fireplaces. And then build cottages for vacationers. Some may not like the idea of being 'stranded' on an island, but I rather think it romantic. It would be a wonderful place to visit and stay. What could be more relaxing than a hike through the forest, the views of the sea, some rock hunting, and dinner next to a fire. It would by idyllic. I would beg the tide to come so that I could stay.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

come on, let's go

my niece
I spent a lot of time on this bike path at the beginning of this summer. A lot of the route is recovered prairie. One day, we grabbed the camera and took pictures of all of the seemingly fragile flowers that litter the green landscape in their wispy whites and pinks and purples.

While riding, we would stop for a drink of water as it was pretty hot and the miles would make us thirsty. I love talking to my niece ... she's always got something on her mind. Not longer after this picture was taken, we took to wondering if fairies live in the prairie. She was certain as, 'the world is a mystery.' Yes, it is indeed. And why not believe that another, transcendental world exists parallel to our own. And for that I wrote this for my little prairie fairy:

                                                      The Prairie

We stopped our bikes on the path
to document the prairie,
the sun at midday colors
wild flowers in golden light
and clusters of white trumpets
sit pretty like china cups
waiting for afternoon tea.

In wisdom that comes with nine,
she turns to me and believes,
as her eye that wanders left
surveys Queen Anne’s parasols
that lace over smaller blooms,
there could be fairies living here,
the world is a mystery.

Kicking off to pedal on,
I set to thinking about
my mortality compared  
to the mysteries of life
that explode over prairies
in waves of black eyed susans
and velvety bumble bees.

I reach out to meet each year
holding my face to the sun
knowing I won’t populate
this landscape for ever long,
but with grace, this life will root
me solidly in cycles
like nature’s bloom and beauty.

willa cather and grand manan island

Grand Manan Island
In recent travels through Maine and New Brunswick, Canada, I discovered that a cottage on the property where I stayed turned out to be Willa Cather's summer home. Willa Cather is the American novelist who wrote O Pioneers!, My Antonia, and Song of the Lark.

I have read most of Cather, but one, Song of the Lark, is a novel that I have read, re-read, and studied in graduate school. I have recommended it to many, and often reflect on the life of Thea Kronenberg, the novel's protagonist, as Cather wrote her. In graduate school, I studied the novel in an American Novels course that focused on identity. Thea's identity is tied to her art. Her talent is what allows her to escape the small western town that she is born to and live outside the expectations of what is to be a woman in the early 1900s. I read one account of Cather's novels that toward the end of her career, she was not an important voice in early modernism. Her novels were old-fashioned. I believe a man wrote the review, for what Cather does is capture what is still true today: women are expected to marry, have children, and die. Emily Dickinson says it most poetically: Born - Bridalled - Shrouded.

Thea is go-to for me because I understand her struggle. She doesn't know where the talent comes from except that it is a friendly spirit that is a part of her. Her mother encourages her musicality and allows her to move to Chicago from Colorado to pursue her piano lessons. Of course, it is not the piano that is her talent, rather her voice. And as a girl born to a family in a back water western town, Thea obviously has supporters. Her mother is a champion of her. She has music herself, and knowing her own circumstance, is able to encourage, not deny, her daughter. Plus, Thea has the accidental financial assistance of her friend, Ray Kennedy, who thought that he would marry Thea, but dies in a railroad incident and leaves her his savings.

I cannot play the piano, and some would say that I cannot sing. But I get Thea. I was not born in a town that was a spec of dust on a map, but I was born to a time when everyone was still trying to figure out what to do with girls. While I was in school, I have to think that someone like Hilary Clinton was on her charge up to the top of the mound. Though she side-stepped, married Bill in what seems to me to be not a marriage of traditional values, but one that suited her needs (his too ... she's an awfully smart cookie). But she did it with Bill, Thea did it without. Old fashioned said the critic, well, I'm thinking that Cather was well ahead of her time.

Cather's Cottage on Grand Manan Island
Thea has a love interest: Fred. He is also unconventional. And whenever I read the novel, I long for someone like him because he lets Thea be herself. She's not easy to pin down. Her ambition and her idea of what her life should be like isn't conventional. This is what I get. I have not led a conventional life either. I am unmarried. Childless. And though I don't have a BIG career or a famous following or am like Hilary Clinton, I am strongly myself. And I don't mean that one can't come into one's own and not be partnered, but I do think that how I've lived so far wouldn't have been possible if I had been securely tied down with a second whose ideas of how to live played half, if not more, a role in the decision making process. I don't think that I'm selfish, that's not it either.

Is Thea happy? Yes. She is true to herself, and that is the key to this. As men have forever had the freedom to do as they please, women have not, and still don't I would argue. Cather herself led an Thea-like life, but what is disturbing to me is that because she never married and travelled with a constant companion, her sexuality is in question. I suppose there is reason enough to be interested in those Peopledotcom kind of snippets of information, but why is it that? It isn't enough that she was Willa. The cottage on the small  island in the Atlantic was her escape. She would look out at the cove that I wondered at every day that I was there and wrote. Her talent, her drive, her self were the women that she characterized in her novels. They were like her ... brave, driven, and focused.

A note about the picture above: Cather's cottage was set apart from the others down a forested path. I wandered down and was happy to find it. Cars were on the drive and I worried that I would be intrusive to the happy vacationers. The dog, seen at the bottom of the picture, bounded up to me with welcome. He encouraged me to take the picture. And right as I quickly snapped this one,  a woman came out to get the dog. She was not very forthcoming, nor happy that I was there. She dragged the dog in the house, and I apologized to her if I was a nucance. If it were I, I think that I would spend the week on the porch waiting for people to come by to talk about the woman who built the cottage. I think that dog would be right there with me.

Monday, August 12, 2013

charm school

I am usually so careful about noting what and where I rip from ... but for this, I have no idea. I was on vacation and had a pile of magazines to read through during airport waits and delays, so for not naming the magazine or the bag ... I apologize.

Of course what struck me is not the bag specifically, rather how it is presented. I don't know if I've ever seen the back of a model and product placement done so well. It's charming. And as it is the new year for me, back to school, I place my girl here going back to it. She's done up for her first day with luxurious curls, smart new shoes and coat, and an understated, yet exquisite bag.

I sit here amidst bags full of school supplies. I've got notebooks, paper collection folders, pencils, pens, mini-whiteboards ... you name it. And it is exciting to gather all of this newness. I remember as a kid pulling together everything that I would need to start the school year. And it was the one time of the year when mom took us all out to buy a pair jeans, a pair of school shoes, and when I turned 14, a purse. I don't know why at 14 I magically needed a purse, but I sure did. What I put in it is a mystery to me now. I didn't have any money ... did I have a wallet? I kept my comb in the back pocket of my jeans, so that wasn't in there. The bag pictured above would work perfectly with the few things that I would have to put in it.

This year, as I start moving into the school year, I am trying to ... economize. I haven't bought a new outfit for the first day of class. No wranglers for me. Having just landed back into my home from having been gone most of the summer, I realize that I haven't done laundry. I haven't really needed to. And that says to me that maybe I don't need to buy a new outfit. And I don't need a new bag. Or shoes. But I am full of a new ... perspective. This ad appeals to me because it's so simple. So forward looking. Optimistic. And I pull that up and into as the new that I go into the year with when I walk through my door on the first day of school.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Daft Punk Rocks NYC

Here are my favorite French robots again in the pages of Vogue (Aug. 2013). They are having a good summer, a lucky one as it were.

The brilliance of this band shines through their signature helmet heads and beyond the nice cut of their suits. For the shoot, apparently, New Yorkers rushed to take their pictures, not the 'random model' as my nephew calls it. But once the shoot was over, they slipped off their signature and went anonymously to lunch.

I've been reading a lot about these robots of late. The best in-depth interview appeared a couple of months ago in Rolling Stone magazine. It walked through their process to explain how they are working hard to not only dominate Electric Dance Music, but move it beyond what most expect is the extent of its creative force and dominance.

They seem to be a couple of somewhat shy, 30-something Frenchmen who like to dance, but like to tinker more.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Daft Punk Gets Lucky

Rolling Stone August 1, 2013
Get Lucky is so fly.  As much as it is modern, it makes me feel like I'm 15 and stuffed into my jeans that I would lie on the bed to zip up to head out to the teen disco. Music wasn't as portable then and thankfully today, I can run around with this tune any where I  want to go. It follows me like a fire fly ... disappearing and then lighting right in front of me to catch.

Rolling Stone puts JT's Mirrors next in the count down, but there's something in this song that bugs me. And it's when JT starts singing about the mirror. It's so ... corny. I would rather just jam to Suit and Tie for the rest of the summer and let that live a little longer. I understand that next and next and next need to be released to capture radio play, but I am done with the first song off of the album. Luckily, I can control that on my playlist.

Miley? Next.

Mariah? Ha.

Icona Pop's song is my niece's ring tone. I've heard it a lot, but wasn't that last year's song? Hm.

And Robin Thicke ... oh dear. I don't get why everyone thinks that the video is so sexy. It's sort of dumb to me, but I'm not into 'stick insects' as Bridget Jones would say ... those girls in that video? They look like they could use a meal (though the naked version is better than the not naked one). But the song? Love it. It's right on par with the breeze that is Daft Punk's song. And like one of Prince's good songs (they aren't all). I could listen to Get Lucky and Blurred Lines back to back forever. I may exaggerate ... I would want a sprinkle of Mackelmore. Hey what's up with that dis? Can't Hold Us is an anthem and has a hook by Ray Dalton that swims, 'like the ceiling can't hold us.'  Oh yeah, I've been away for a while, and away from music. So when I hear it, I'm there to gobble it up. I want to get up and dance. Whoop. Sing falsetto. He's a sexy man ... oh yeah, Robin, T.I., and Pharrell.
Rolling Stone August 1, 2013

What's up with Pharrell. He's been around forever, but all of a sudden, he's popped for me. Who is he? How is that he he's on the two songs that I love this summer? WHO IS HE?

Here he is ... the vampire! Apparently, a theory about Pharrell on the Internet is that he is a vampire because he looks so young. I know a group of people that would believe that of him ... but I think that he's just lovin' what he's doing and that's why he's looking so good. In the Q&A, he called Daft Punk: robots ... they are relentless about perfecting any song. He recalled Houdini and said that the present is like being on a 'conveyor belt,' that 'we can remember the past, but we can't go back, and we can't touch the future, so we're trapped in the present.' And on the naked women in the Blurred Lines video: we all come through the conduit of the bodies of beautiful women.

I'm not sure what that all adds up to, but he sure can sing and write and produce. Maybe it isn't the jams that are the hits of this summer. Pharrell is.

Did Nicole Kidman Choo her hair?

Vogue August 2013
I have seen this advertisement in all of the August magazines ... did Nicole really cut her hair? I haven't read anything of the sort, but if it hasn't been, there is some masterful trickery going on hair!